Antoni Fabrés was born in Barcelona in 1854, and went to Rome as a young sculptor. However, while he was there, he evolved into a painter instead. He continued to move around Europe somewhat; back to Barcelona and then to Paris, then back to Italy…and his fame and good reputation grew. He was recognised all over the place and even had commissions in Mexico. He had a realistic style, and at the time the bourgeoisie were interested in buying pictures depicting “exotic” oriental scenes, hence the subject of the painting I have chosen.
This painting is called “The Warrior’s Repose” and was painted in 1878 (when he was living in Rome) in oil on canvas. It measures 87.5cm by 141cm. What I find so enchanting about this picture is the mix between the finished realism of the figure and the sketchy impressions of his surroundings. It reminded ne of a painting by Kent Williams, which I like for the same reasons although they relay completely different ideas and atmospheres.
The colour palette is very warm golds, reds and browns, and combined with his reclined posture and abundance of objects including fabrics, food and drink, the atmosphere rendered is one of comfort. The figure’s surroundings are depicted just suggestively, which contrasts with how realistically he himself has been painted. Are his surroundings just a fantasy, we ask? The serious expression seems pensive, as his eyes are concentrating on something to his left, rather than resting closed. The way he continues to prop his head up also suggests that he is considering something or reflecting.
The figure is a warrior, so he has probably seen and done some horrible things; perhaps he can’t get them off his mind. In general, I love how the focus is given to the thoughtful man. The table and plate in the foreground give some depth to the picture, while the line of his undefined body leads our eyes up to his glowing torso (revealing his strength and fitness) and concerned face. His whole body is parallel to his sword, indicating an affinity to his profession. The pose of his left hand is interesting… it almost seems a religious gesture, but I think he is just holding a cigarette. The fact that his open palm is placed almost in the very centre seems to say something. But what? This painting is a good example of one that asks questions more than it gives answers.